It is summertime again and that means heading down to the beach or going on vacation and packing a vertiable treasure trove of books to expand your literary horizons.
We have selected the top 25 summer books from a wellspring of new releases to give you a taste of the best reads of 2011, so far.
Books for the Literary Types
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson – Possibly one of the most buzzed about books of the year, it has been selected as one of Amazon’s Best Books of June 2011, and as this summer’s hottest titles. In “Before I Go To Sleep,” S. J. Watson’s riveting psychological thriller, the heroine, Christine, has an unusual form of amnesia; her memories, all of them, are erased every night as she sleeps. As if that’s not unsettling enough, it now appears that the one person Christine relies on to keep her life in order – her husband – may be keeping dangerous secrets from her.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton – Blood, Bones & Butter” is a chef’s memoir with enough heart, soul, and grit to enchant even readers whose relationship with the kitchen is confined to frequent use of the microwave. Gabrielle Hamilton is the owner of New York’s Prunes restaurant, but she is also a born writer who movingly evokes her New Jersey childhood, her uneven path to adulthood, and her unusual marriage to an Italian with an irresistible mother.
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See – Beloved author Lisa See’s new novel, serves as a continuation of Shanghai Girls, and the story of sisters Pearl and May. Devastated over recent news of her father, Pearl’s daughter Joy runs away to China in search for the truth.
Faith by Jennifer Haigh -When Sheila McGann sets out to redeem her disgraced brother, a once-beloved Catholic priest in suburban Boston, her quest will force her to confront cataclysmic truths about her fractured Irish-American family, her beliefs, and, ultimately, herself. Award-winning author Jennifer Haigh follows her critically acclaimed novels Mrs. Kimble and The Condition with a captivating, vividly rendered portrait of fraying family ties, and the trials of belief and devotion, in Faith.
The Paris Wife by Paul McLain – McLain tells the story of Ernest Hemingway from the point of view of his first wife, Hadley Hemingway. The book takes the reader through the streets of Paris during the jazz age, and introduces us to colorful literary personalities like James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Please Look After Mom, by Kyung-Sook Shin – In Kyung-Sook Shin’s novel “Please Look After Mom,” the mother of Shin’s protagonist disappears in a busy Seoul train station. But that’s only the beginning of the unravelling of her world. The family starts to question if they ever really knew their matriarch at as her inner mysteries come to light. This book is a haunting tribute to the secrets of motherhood.
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht –Téa Obreht evokes a narrative mysticism worthy of Gabriel García Márquez in “The Tiger’s Wife,” her story of a young doctor in the working at an orphanage in an unnamed country in the Balkans. As the heroine works to unravel a web of secrets and lies, she begins to grasp the mysteries behind her family history and her grandfather’s recent death.
Mysterious and Spine Tingling Thrillers Books
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler – Lars Kepler’s The Hypnotist starts with a bang; with the brutal murder – or perhaps slaughter is a better word – of a whole family in a Stockholm suburb. Two parents and their little daughter have been stabbed to death. An older brother, Josef Ek, 15 years old, is the only survivor in the house. He is in critical condition and extremely weak. All the members of the family, including Josef, have received multiple stab wounds. An older sister that has moved away has also survived the disaster.
The Informationist by Taylor Stevens – Stevens’s blazingly brilliant debut introduces a great new action heroine, Vanessa Michael Munroe, who doesn’t have to kick over a hornet’s nest to get attention, though her feral, take-no-prisoners attitude reflects the fire of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. Nine years have passed since Munroe, the daughter of American missionaries, escaped Cameroon at age 15 after a violent incident. She’s forged a new life in Texas as an “informationist,” a person who specializes in gathering information about developing countries for corporations. Munroe’s best friend, marketing consultant Kate Breeden, refers her to Miles Bradford, a high-stakes security pro, who believes she’s the perfect choice to help Houston oilman Richard Burbank find his adopted daughter, Emily, who vanished four years earlier at age 18 while vacationing in west central Africa. Munroe returns to Africa, where she reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, Francisco Beyard, a sexy drug- and gun-running businessman, who assists in the dangerous search for Emily.
A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley – In the third installment of this bestselling, award-winning, sister-poisoning, bicycle-riding, murder-investigating, and utterly captivating series, Flavia de Luce must draw upon Gypsy lore and her encyclopaedic knowledge of poisons to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.
Save me by Lisa Scottoline – At the start of this gut-wrenching stand-alone from bestseller Scottoline (Think Twice), an explosion rips through the nearly empty cafeteria of Reesburgh (Pa.) Elementary School. Lunch mother Rose McKenna leads two girls to safety before racing to rescue her own daughter, Melly, but Rose soon learns that she may face both civil and criminal charges for her heroics because one of the girls she saved was seriously injured in the resulting fire that killed three school staff members. The tension rises as the united front presented by Rose and her lawyer husband, Leo Ingrassia, begins to disintegrate in the face of media demands, legal maneuverings, and social pressures. Rose must also deal with school bullying (Melly has a noticeable facial blemish), difficult legal problems, and her husband’s reaction when a secret from her past is revealed. Scottoline melds it all into a satisfying nail-biting thriller sure to please her growing audience. 400,000 first printing; author tour.
Smokin’ Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich – Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, Stephanie faces further complications when her family and friends decide that it’s time for her to choose between her longtime off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both and choose a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old-world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie.
SCI-FI and Dragon Busting Fantasy
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock – Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrificial blood he pours on his “prayer log.” There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Current reading trends prove that many can’t resist a story about witches or vampires – this book contains both. The heroine, an ashamed witch, finds an old manuscript that unleashed demons of all kinds; much to her dismay, she is the only one who can stop them.
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson – Wilson does a fabulous job at creating a world where technology completely takes over, but with the intent to destroy mankind. It serves as a clear warning that technology is not always a good thing.
Books for the Younglings
The Kane Chronicles, Book Two: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan– In this exciting second installment of the three-book series, Carter and Sadie, offspring of the brilliant Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane, embark on a worldwide search for the Book of Ra, but the House of Life and the gods of chaos are determined to stop them.
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens – A former screen writer, Stephens debut book is expected to enchant kids for years to come. The visually stunning book trailer provides a background for the story of three unwanted children.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – When I first saw this book in the catalog, it creeped me out, but also made me want to know more. The book trailer gives a better explanation with even creepier visuals…
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt – Young Adult author Schmidt has the ability to write books (The Wednesday Wars) that resonate with teens everywhere. In Okay For Now, he tells the coming-0f-age story of 14-year-old Doug who moves to a new town where tragedy and comedy both ensue.
Sisterhood Everlasting: A Novel (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) by Ann Brashares – From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.
Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow – This book brings readers everywhere an inspirational memoir about life as he chose to live it, revealing how his faith and family values, combined with his relentless will to succeed, have molded him into the person that he is today. As the son of Christian missionaries, Tebow has a unique story to tell—from the circumstances of his birth, to his home-schooled roots, to his record-setting collegiate football career with the Florida Gators and everything else that took place in between.
Bossypants by Tina Fey – Funny lady Fey made me literally laugh out loud… at work; she narrates the hysterical audiobook that examines her childhood, career, family, and take on society.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.
The Social Animal by David Brooks – New York Times Columnist Brooks explores the idea of success, and how it happens through the unconscious mind. Done with his usual wit and humor, Brooks’ follows the lives of two individuals, how will they turn out? Get a sneak peek in this video.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.